Review: Mamma Mia! at the Novello Theatre

Mamma Mia, here I go again,

My my, how can I resist you?

Mamma Mia, does it show again?

My my, just how much I’ve missed you

In lyrics known not just to musical theatre fans but anyone with any sort of awareness of popular culture, I find the perfect way to sum up my feelings on revisiting Mamma Mia! last week.

Having seen the Broadway production a few years ago and re-watched the film so many times I have lost count, it may seem silly to go back to London to see the same show again. Yet when something is that good – how can I resist?

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My programme signed by the Broadway cast in August 2013.

Currently showing at the beautiful Novello Theatre, next door to the glamorous Walforf Hilton Hotel, Mamma Mia! now feels like a staple on the London West End. It would not be right if one couldn’t pop down to the Strand to indulge in a few hours of unabashed joy, chock full of glitter, platform heeled boots and a healthy dose of baby-daddy drama.

The plot borders on silly but who cares? With a certain amount of tongue in cheek humour and, of course, the fabulous ABBA soundtrack this production could never set a foot wrong – unless the cast were truly awful – and awful they are most certainly not.

Linzi Hateley’s performance as Donna Sheridan most certainly deserved the thunderous applause at the end of ‘The Winner Takes it All’ and the understudy for Sophie, Georgina Castle, was perfectly charming – but it is Mazz Murray who truly stands out in this production as the glamorous divorcée, Tanya. Hilarious in every scene and just brilliant in ‘Does Your Mother Know’ it is this performance that I raved to my family about when I returned home that evening.

Seeing Mamma Mia! on stage reminds me, as it did when I saw the show on Broadway, how wonderful it is to see the parts of Sam Carmichael (Richard Trinder), Bill Austin (Dugald Bruce-Lockhart) and Harry Bright (Alasdair Harvey) played by proper singers. Whilst the all-star cast of the film do a fine job, Pierse Brosnan really didn’t do ‘SOS’ the justice it deserves. Trinder’s dashing turn as Donna’s lost love is especially enjoyable.

The staging is not too complicated but very effective and the choreography fantastic in ‘Under Attack’, a number particularly notable for the hilarious moment Richard Carson as Sky processes onto stage in a bridal gown.

In uncertain times it is wonderful to spend a few hours at the Novello Theatre indulging in a few hours of over-the-top fun and laughter. Indeed, a musical that ends with a sing-a-long is always going to be a favourite for me.

If you’ve seen it before, trust me, it’s worth it to go see it again – and if you haven’t – what have you been doing with your life?

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